By this time, USA Network series White Collar would normally be deeply in preproduction, getting ready to start filming in March. But not this year. It’s already mid-February, and there is still no decision on …
Three days into the astronomical fall, USA Network has made the first renewal decision on its summer series, picking up additional seasons of established performers Royal Pains, White Collar and Covert Affairs. For Royal Pains, the pickup is for 26 episodes across two additional seasons, the show’s fifth and sixth. White Collar and Covert Affairs have each received a 16-episode renewal for a fifth and fourth season, respectively. “In an increasingly competitive landscape, these series got new season pickups the old-fashioned way – they earned it,” said USA co-presidents Chris McCumber and Jeff Wachtel. The move comes as USA wrapped a seventh consecutive summer as the No. 1 cable network across all key demos.
Vlada Gelman is West Coast Reporter for TVLine
Matt Bomer has been a very busy man. The White Collar star has a movie opening soon — you may have heard of a little “independent” project called Magic Mike — but he isn’t forgetting his TV roots. In addition to his leading role as con man Neal Caffrey on the dapper USA Network hit, Bomer found time during his hiatus to film a guest spot on a decidedly different show — the musical comedy Glee — giving him two shots at an Emmy nomination. Here, the actor talks to TVLine about the Emmys’ indifference to USA Network shows, his favorite moments from White Collar‘s most recent season and stretching his comedy muscles.
AWARDSLINE: Do you see something like Magic Mike and a growing movie career as a positive or a hindrance to your Emmy chances — as well as to White Collar‘s future?
MATT BOMER: It’s always good to get your face out there, especially if you’re working with somebody like [Magic Mike director] Steven Soderbergh. I don’t think that hurts. I certainly don’t think it’ll hurt the show. The great thing about getting to do a cable series is we’re on for six months and we’re off for six months. I’ve been trying to use my hiatus to work with filmmakers like [In Time director-writer] Andrew Niccol and Steven Soderbergh that I really believe in, in smaller roles, rather than taking a lead in something big and studio and splashy — not that Magic Mike hasn’t become studio and splashy [laughs]. But when I signed on to do it, it was a $5 million independent movie. I don’t think it’s a bad thing to go out there and challenge yourself as an actor.
FX Announces Midseason Schedule
USA Network has firmed up its midseason schedule, which will feature the return of White Collar on January 17 and Royal Pains on January 18 and the premiere of new drama Common Law on January 26. White Collar and Royal Pains will air on the same nights they did in the summer — Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively — but will slide from 9 PM to 10 PM. Common Law, which stars Michael Ealy and Warren Kole as a pair of detectives forced to attend couples counseling, will air Thursdays at 10 PM. For the first time in awhile for a rookie USA series, Common Law will launch with no original lead-in from an established show. This past midseason, Fairly Legal launched on Thursdays 10 PM behind Royal Pains.
HBO’s off-beat comedy series Eastbound & Down will return for a third season on February 19, followed by the debut of Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant’s latest series Life’s Too Short. The comedies will air in the 10 PM hour, following new drama Luck, which launches January 29 following a preview after the season finale of Boardwalk Empire on December 11. Life’s Too Short is a faux documentary starring actor Warwick Davis as a fictionalized version of himself: a down-and-out little person desperately trying to hustle and connive his way back into the spotlight. Gervais will be able to promote Life’s Too Short with his stint as host of the Golden Globes in January.
This year’s Emmy race for Outstanding Drama Series will continue cable’s dominance in this most prestigious category. Cable claimed 10 of the 13 nomination spots over the past two years, and 13 of 19 since 2008. By contrast, cable earned a mere nine nods combined in the seven years between 2001 and 2007 when the networks still ruled. The shift from broadcast is so extreme in 2011 that CBS’ The Good Wife is considered the only network series with a solid shot to earn its second nomination in as many years. (Though not in that league, NBC/DirecTV’s Friday Night Lights, NBC’s Parenthood, and CBS’ Blue Bloods deserve consideration while ABC has entered a rebuilding phase.) The sad reality is that the broadcast networks, which just signed a new eight-year deal with the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences to carry the Emmys, are facing a possible first-ever shutout from the top drama series category. That’s because of the continuing strength and ambition of programming on cable — in particular, HBO in a return to form, and AMC still on a roll.
HBO’s Prohibition-era hourlong Boardwalk Empire drew the most critical attention this Emmy season because of its pedigreed producer team, headed by the legendary Martin Scorsese and creator/showrunner Terence Winter, a Sopranos alum. How interesting that the pay channel’s expensive serial will compete against another period drama from that other Sopranos alum Matt Weiner. AMC’s first acclaimed original series, Mad Men, has won this category three years running and is bidding this year to be the first series to win four in a row since NBC’s The West Wing (2000- 2003). Though the frontrunner, Mad Men could be hurt by a long hiatus.
AMC has seized the mantle from HBO as TV’s preeminent quality-drama purveyor with a pair of newcomers that could crack the series field this year: the zombie-themed hour The Walking Dead, and the dark murder mystery The Killing. Even though two-time category nominee Breaking Bad is not eligible for 2011, AMC could still land three nods, becoming the first network in 10 years to do so in this category, after NBC scored the hat trick in 2001 with The West Wing, ER, and Law & Order. No cable network has ever managed the feat to date.
And then there’s Showtime, whose Dexter is in the running for its fourth consecutive Outstanding Drama nomination, along with first-season Shameless. FX is pushing its increasingly buzzed-about Western, Justified and, to a lesser extent, Sons Of Anarchy. TNT wants attention for The Closer, Men Of A Certain Age, and Southland. USA is pressing Covert Affairs and White Collar. Here’s our assessment of the chances for this year’s drama series in alphabetical order:
USA Network is taking to movie theaters to promote its Tuesday night pair of White Collar and Covert Affairs, which return June 7. Here is an exclusive look at the trailer, which will be unspooled on 2,484 screens across the country this weekend, running before such tentpole movies as Pirates …
While the broadcast networks are largely retreating from original scripted programming this summer, leading cable network USA is prepping its largest original series summer slate with eight series: newbies Suits (aka A Legal Mind) and Necessary Roughness and returning shows White Collar, Covert Affairs, Royal Pains, Burn Notice, In Plain Sight and the the final season of Law & Order: Criminal Intent. USA will use its biggest shows, Burn Notice and Royal Pains, to launch its new series, Suits and Necessary Roughness, respectively. Additionally, the network’s first reality series in five years, WWE Tough Enough, will continue to air on Monday, bringing the total of USA’s original summer series to nine and its nights of originals to five. Interestingly, Friday, where USA launched its scripted ascent, is staying dark. Network chief Jeff Wachtel had indicated that reclaiming the night was a priority. Missing from the summer schedule is veteran Psych, which won’t return until the fall. Here is USA’s original summer lineup with premiere dates (new series in bold):